|15-day Andes + Galapagos + Amazon Tour
Upon arrival to the city of Quito, one of our staff members will be waiting for you at Mariscal Sucre airport. After a warm welcome, you will be transferred to your hotel, where you can rest before your next day.
||Quito City Tour (B,L)
After breakfast, we will discover one of the most beautiful cities in Latin America – Quito. The capital of Ecuador, Quito was declared a world heritage site because of its beautiful colonial district. Stone streets, tiled roofs, beautiful buildings, and magnificent churches make Quito one of the most charming colonial cities of Latin America.
After our city tour of Quito, we will return to our hotel for a good night sleep.
Colonial Quito was designed by the conquistadors like a chessboard, allowing them to control the city and defend it in a much more organized way. The main plaza, where construction started in the city, is commonly known as La Plaza Grande, and around this square the most important powers of the government were settled. Here we will find the Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace, which represent the vast power of the Catholic Church at the time. Then we will visit the presidential palace of Carondelet, which was the administrative center of the colonial period for the Royal Audience of Quito. We will learn more about the administrative ways of the colonial period and the contemporary times of Ecuador.
Our tour continues to the awe-inspiring Compania de Jesus church. This Jesuit temple is perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of Baroque architecture on the continent. Marvelous columns, intricate designs, and detailed carvings decorate the main entrance, but what will take your breath away is the spectacular interior. Incredible “mudejar-style” roofs, carved figures, and gold leaf on almost every wall make this church the most precious treasure of colonial Quito.
We continue our city tour of Quito at San Francisco Square. Here we will check out one of the most iconic churches of Quito and also one of the oldest churches in Latin America, the church of San Francisco. The construction of the church started in 1537, but it was not until 1705 that the church was officially inaugurated. Between its chapels and the monastery, this church spans almost 3 hectares, making this religious complex the biggest in Latin America. But San Francisco is not only famous for its architectural beauty; its history is also part of the richness of this church – especially the harrowing legend of Cantuña and how he cheated the devil in the atrium of San Francisco.
We will have lunch, and afterwards we will head to the Middle of the World Monument. The monument was built in the place where the 18th century Geodesic French Mission established the point at which the equatorial line divided the world in two hemispheres, hence the name the “Middle of the World.” This will be a wonderful experience where you can take a fun picture in both hemispheres at the same time. Finally, we will visit the Intiñan Museum, a very entertaining museum where you will learn about the different cultures that inhabit Ecuador and their traditions.
||Andean Train North (B,D)
In the morning, we will depart north to the province of Ibarra, were we will take the spectacular Andean train to the small population of Salinas de Ibarra. This commercial route was used to transport products from the Andes to the port of Esmeraldas, allowing people to trade products in the northern parts of Ecuador. We will drive north for about 3 hours to the city of Ibarra. Here we will board the Liberty Train. This magnificent ride takes you over green sugar cane plantations, amazing tunnels excavated through the rock with only human strength, and over the ridge of the impressive Amby River. Spectacular landscapes await you on this entertaining ride.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we will head south to the town of Cotacachi, a picturesque small town famous for its work in leather, where we will spend the night at one of Ecuador's most awarded hotels: La Mirage. Here you will be delighted by the exquisite cuisine and the top quality service offered at this unique hotel.
||Otavalo Indigenous Market (B,L)
After breakfast, we will visit the beautiful Cuicocha Lake, one of the many natural wonders of Ecuador. Cuicocha Lake is set in the crater of an old volcano, and its turquoise waters are fed by a subterranean current that comes from the Cotacachi Glacier, just a few kilometers away from the crater. In the middle of the lake you will find two small islets – a product of the last eruption of the volcano. On these islands, some small animals such as guinea pigs and ducks have made their home. For the natives, this incredible crater and lake with its turquoise waters was a sacred place for reverence and worship to the elements that created life on Earth.
After this magnificent visit, we will visit the famous Otavalo indigenous market. There is always a great number of merchants that gather at Plaza de los Ponchos, but on Saturdays perhaps the largest congregation of indigenous merchants in South America gather here to trade their products. At this market, you will find beautiful alpaca sweaters, mittens, hats and fabrics, colorful tapestries, embroidered blouses, carvings, musical instruments, and hundreds of different souvenirs that will marvel you.
We will have lunch at a traditional Andean hacienda and afterwards return to the city of Quito to spend the night.
||Cotopaxi National Park (B,L)
On the fifth day of our journey, we will visit the amazing Cotopaxi Volcano. With a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft), Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Its perfectly shaped cone and its snowed-capped summit make Cotopaxi one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Avenue of the Volcanoes.
After breakfast we will drive south into Cotopaxi National Park, home of the volcano for which it is named. Here in the Park, we will see an ecosystem that is very common to the Andes – the paramo. Paramos are a fundamental ecosystem for the support of life, since one of their main characteristic is retaining water in the roots of the plants and scrub brush that characterize this biosphere. We will learn more about this fascinating ecosystem and also about the different creatures that live in it, like the white tail deer, spectacled bear, the Andean Condor, and many more.
Afterwards, we will enjoy the delicious Andean food at a local hacienda and then head back to the city of Quito for a good night rest.
||Amazon Rainforest (B,L,D)
Our amazing trip to the heart of the Amazon Basin starts today. You will be transferred to the Mariscal Sucre Airport in Quito for your flight to the city of Coca. Upon arrival to Coca, you will be met by one of the lodge's representatives, who will take you to the public dock where you will board a motorized canoe to head to the lodge.
The best lodges in the Ecuadorian Amazon are located deep in the jungle, away from populated towns, where animals have found sanctuary and oil companies are delightfully absent. The only way to reach these magnificent natural refuges is by a motorized boat that will take you on an entertaining two-hour ride to the docks of the lodge. On the way, you'll be able to appreciate the beauty of the Amazon rainforest and also the way of life of some communities that have settled along the fertile banks of the mighty rivers.
Upon arrival at the dock of the lodge, we will take a paddle canoe down a small creek that will take us to the lodge itself. On the way, you'll catch a glimpse of the abundant life that is protected on this reserve.
||Amazon Rainforest (B,L,D)
Days seven and eight of your tour will be an amazing adventure, deep in the jungle, surrounded by playful monkeys and colorful birds.
You will enjoy all of this while you relax in the best and most conformable lodge in the Amazon. Enjoy the delightful cuisine and relax during down time between excursions in the unmatchable Amazon Rainforest.
Activities will be scheduled at the lodge according to weather, reported sightings of animals, and other considerations that your guide will make; but during your stay at the lodge, you will be able to participate in the following activities.
Visiting a clay lick – Clay licks are a fundamental part of life in the Amazon basin; many animals, such as parrots, depend on the minerals contained in the clay to complete their digestive process, absorb minerals, and to cleanse their bodies from certain toxins. We will visit one of these places located on the river's border.
Visiting a local community – many ethnic groups have made the Amazon rainforest their home, including the Shuar, the famous Huaroani, who have isolated themselves from the interference of western civilization, and the largest group, the Kichwas, who populate most of the towns of the Amazon. We will visit one of the communities that live close by and learn more about their customs, way of life, and if you wish you will be able to try their local food, which mainly consists of yucca, fish, and other locally harvested products.
During your stay, your guide will schedule different walks in the rainforest. During this excursion, you will be able to see this magnificent ecosystem up close, including the various plants that live in this biosphere and their characteristics and medicinal use. You might see some of the amazing critters that live here and form part of one of the most biodiverse biomes in the entire planet.
No visit to the Amazon is complete without visiting a viewing tower that will take you above the canopy of the dense rainforest. Life is very different here: beautifully colored birds nest and sing as the sun rises; playful monkeys jump from tree to tree looking for fruits while they do spectacular acrobatics to move through the higher branches; other species bask in the morning sun, saving energy for their activities later. You will discover a different world while you enjoy the magnificent views of the rainforest.
||Return to Quito (B)
Early in the morning, you will have breakfast and then board the motorized boat back to the city of Coca. The journey back on the motorized canoe takes about two hours, and during this trip you can enjoy the beauty of the forested riverbanks.
Upon arrival to the dock of Coca, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Quito.
At the Quito airport, one of our representatives will be waiting for you to drive you back to your hotel in Quito, where you can rest for the next day's adventure in the enchanted islands of the Galapagos.
||Transfer to Galapagos (B)
Your transfer will be arranged depending on your cruise itinerary, and your transportation will be waiting for you to drive you to the airport in Quito.
Depending on the itinerary of your cruise you will land at San Cristobal or Baltra Island. If your flight arrives in San Cristobal, you will be transferred to your yacht quickly. If you are arriving at Baltra, you will take the public bus to the Itabaca Channel, then a very short ferry ride to Santa Cruz. Once on Santa Cruz, we will be transferred to Puerto Ayora. This is where our adventure will begin.
At the Quito airport, you will have some help checking your bag with the SICGAL (a routine check to avoid foreign species being introduced to the Islands).You will then board your flight, which will make a stop in Guayaquil before it reaches its final destination in the Galapagos.
||Galapagos excursion (B,L,D)
During these days, you will discover the beauty of one of the world's most amazing natural treasures. Morning and afternoon activities are organized according to the Galapagos National Park approved itineraries. These activities will include hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming, all under the supervision of your naturalist guide.
Enjoy energizing hikes on the islands, crossing over dry lava fields, white sandy beaches, or even red sand; discover the rich geological history of the islands forged by lava and fire. Learn more about the unique ecosystems that are present on each island. Admire the beautiful marine birds that live on the islands, and depending on your visitor sites, you might be able to catch some views of the magnificent albatross touching land for the first time in maybe months, after they set out on their journey to sea for food. You'll also witness the curious flightless cormorant, a bird that has adapted so well to the islands and their rich marine ecosystem that it has lost its ability to fly. And maybe you'll see the gracious Galapagos penguins. This species of equatorial penguin is unique as the only one that can survive life in such a warm tropical climate. And you can't forget about the gracious booby birds – masked, red, or blue-footed, these birds although clumsy on land are great acrobats in the air and can dive under water to catch their prey with incredible precision.
Snorkel in the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, and discover the astonishing marine life that dwells in the coral reef and rocky seafloors around the islands. As you explore one of the most diverse marine reserves in the world, you will be dazzled by colorful fish, magnificent rays gliding through the open sea, beautiful green sea turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, and perhaps one or two hammerheads, and of course some playful sea lions and their cubs that like to have fun in this underwater world.
If you'd like to do some kayaking, you will be able to do so in the National Park's designated areas. Enjoy the marine breeze and the turquoise sea water here in the tranquil atmosphere of this paradise on Earth.
Enjoy these activities and many others aboard the best cruise ships and catamarans of the islands, with superb service, exquisite meals, and the utmost comfort that the Galapagos Islands can bring to you.
||Galapagos to Mainland Ecuador (B)
After breakfast, the crew will help transfer you to the airport, where you will take your flight back to the city of Quito, where one of our representatives will be waiting for you in order to transfer you to your hotel rest for your departure the following day.
On your last day in Ecuador, we will arrange your transfer to Quito's international airport according to your scheduled flight. This marks the end of an unforgettable experience and a vacation of a lifetime in one of the most diverse countries in the world.